“A heavy rain caused the Mori River to overflow, which flooded the area where I live.
My children and I narrowly escaped dead,” recalls Alice Marawa, a Mundri West County resident and mother of six, with tears in her eyes as she speaks.
She is one of the recently displaced people living in the county, located in Western Equatoria state.
Four of her mud huts collapsed and her farm was destroyed.
“Our crops were just wiped out: corn, sweet potatoes, sorghum, everything was gone.” Women, children and the elderly make up the majority of those who have been forced to leave their homes.
“We are housing them at our church with the limited shelter we can afford.
Their situation is serious, you see hungry and dry children.
I am worried about a cholera outbreak,” said Pastor Robert Hassen of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan.
County Commissioner Zelpha Dawa says local authorities are doing everything they can to help those in need and to prevent future damage from atypical rains caused by climate change, but significant outside help is needed.
“So far, our records show that 29,796 people have been displaced from their homes.
We urge our partners to support our efforts to salvage the situation,” she says.
And help is on the way.
Thomas Bazawi, a Protection, Transition and Reintegration Officer serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), recently visited the affected area and says the peacekeeping mission has increased its air patrols to help assess the situation on the ground.
“We have been able to alert state and county authorities to inform them that their critical role will be to protect civilian lives in Mvolo, Mundri West and other affected areas by relocating communities to higher and safer ground,” he said, and I add.
that a long-term solution is needed to deal with future floods and prevent a repeat of what is happening now.
Single mother Rejoice Karama is deeply concerned about the future of her children.
“We ran in disarray, and here we are, sheltered under trees, on terraces, and sometimes in the open air, literally with nothing to eat.
It’s hard to imagine that we’ve lost everything we had,” she said.
Humanitarian efforts are underway to help displaced communities.
“We can bring emergency medical supplies as the women’s group indicated shortages.
We have witnessed how they survive in the church shelter with a lack of non-food items, but there is also a need for food and washing, sanitation and hygiene facilities.
We will do our best to fill some of the critical gaps and hope to return with a response team, says Russom Habtegabriel, who works for the World Food Program in Western Equatoria.
As humanitarian partners plan for a response team to arrive, the challenge of road access remains.
“We will mobilize the necessary machinery to rescue the trucks so that the road is open for supplies,” said Mr. Habtegabriel.
While UNMISS peacekeepers and humanitarian partners are working hard to help, the communities hosting the displaced are also showing great goodwill.
They are offering food, clothing and other useful items to those most in need, but that support is limited and short-term.